Washington, D.C. - Sea Organization or Sea Org is a sort of "religious order" within Scientology where only the most committed members of the late L. Ron Hubbard's cult live out their lives. For the unborn child of a mother in Sea Org, that isn't very long. They are aborted.
Members of this "inner circle" of devotees are required to sign a contract agreeing to serve Sea Org "for the next billion years." They are given room and board plus a small wage for performing the various roles, such as gardeners, cooks, laborers, secretaries, graphics designers, writers, and assembly line workers.
According to those interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times, they were required to work extended hours, deprived of sleep, experienced prolonged separation from spouses, and received punishment for misbehavior.
In addition, children were seen as a distraction from their higher calling. Those who were pregnant were counseled to seek abortions, even though Scientology publicly affirmed a pro-life position.
In a December 9, 1950 article in "Look" Magazine the author, Albert Q. Maisel, writes, "Unlike many religious groups, the proponents of dianetics have nothing against birth control. But the greatest of all crimes and the root of most evils, as they see it, is the attempt - or even just the verbal wish - to cause the abortion of a child already conceived.
"They object here, not so much on moral grounds, as because such attempts - or such wishes and thoughts - load down the time track with the basic-basic demon engram.
"But all is not lost. Dianetics can transform you into a 'clear' - a person whose every engram has been resolved."
Explanations of Scientology's belief regarding abortion vary. Some sources indicate that L. Ron Hubbard toward that a baby doesn't have a spirit until it is born. Others say that he taught that a fetus may already be inhabited by a spiritual being.
It would seem, however, that principle gave way to pragmatics as Scientology grew. Affidavits and other reports of forced abortions go back as early as 1994 while the abortions themselves began taking place in the mid 80's.
Mary Tabayoyon spent 25 years in Scientology, 21 of which were as a member of Sea Org. In an affidavit dated 26 August 1994 for the case CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL VS. STEVEN-FISHMAN AND UWE GEERTZ, Defendants, she described a September 26, 1986 Sea Org Flag Order (an order binding upon all members) that forbade members from having any more children. Disobedience would result in exile to a lower expression of service. When the child reached age 6, the parents could return.
According to Tabyoyon, there were several instances where pregnant women were coerced into having an abortion as an alternative to exile. When she reported her own pregnancy, the Medical Officer arranged for the life of her child to be terminated.
Tabyoyon is only one of many affidavits, testimonies and statements from past Sea Org members who had abortions at the insistence of the organization.
An affidavit from Tera Hathaway in 2001 reads: "[The Executive Director] had gone on to say that at this point in my life it is better to do the greatest good for all. That spending my life 'clearing the planet' which means basically to get the planet saved from insanity, would be the greatest good, in other words, a far more noble endeavor than leaving staff to raise a child.
"She went on to tell me that the spirit doesn't enter the baby's body until the baby is born. She made the point that all I would be 'killing' is a piece of meat essentially. We discussed this for a couple of days and she showed me definitions in the L. Ron Hubbard Technical Dictionary to persuade me to have an abortion."
In June of this year the Joe Childs and Tom C. Tobin, of the St. Petersburg Times, offered a three-day special report on Scientology that addressed a full litany of issues and concerns with the group who participates in the entire spectrum of abuses - physical, mental, social, and spiritual.
An editorial published online at TampaBay.com on November 6 by the St. Petersburg Times called for a long-overdue investigation of Scientology.
"As former staffers lift the veil of secrecy that for years has obscured the inner workings of the Church of Scientology, a new mystery emerges: Why are government authorities looking the other way?
"The Internal Revenue Service has ample reason to reconsider its decision to grant Scientology tax-exempt status as a religion. Labor officials should determine whether wage and working condition violations have occurred, and law enforcement ought to investigate whether the church's restraint on members' free movement crossed a legal line.
"The Church of Scientology trumpets its global reach and expansions in communities large and small across America. Its presence can be disruptive, as Clearwater has learned since the church secretly moved in and established its spiritual headquarters in the city more than 25 years ago.
"Government cannot afford to be complacent, and those politicians and community leaders who have normalized relations with Scientology can no longer claim ignorance about the nature of the church and the treatment of its workers."
The Times is not alone in wondering why the group has not already been investigated. An increasing number of people, including this writer and many other Catholics are asking the very same question.